What you need to know:
- Patricia Kombo, 24, is a nominee for this year's Africa Green Awards that recognises efforts in environmental conservation.
- She was among volunteers who distributed relief food during the famine that hit the Turkana County where she came face to face with the brutality of climate change.
- The United Nations Convention recognised her among the ‘top land heroes’ in May, because of her effort in changing public attitude towards land use and ensuring land is used sustainably.
- Ms Kombo has been planting trees and educating farmers on climate smart agriculture techniques.
A Kenyan, Patricia Kombo, is a nominee for this year's Africa Green Awards that recognises efforts in environmental conservation.
The 24-year-old will be battling for the award under the category of Under-40 Green Awards, which has attracted five contestants. The awards, organised by a Nigerian-based organisation Eleven Twelve Foundation, are in four categories.
Ms Kombo’s journey in campaigning for green environment started a year ago after she visited Lodwar in Turkana County. She was among volunteers who distributed relief food during the famine that hit the county and she came face to face with the brutality of climate change.
She, henceforth, decided to initiate the revival of the 4k clubs and introduction of environmental education in schools.
"The one week stay in Lodwar changed my perception about environment. The idea to train children on how to fight for climate rights through environmental conservation and planting trees to preserve farms was born," says Ms Kombo.
United Nations Convention
She named the campaign Patree Initiative.
The Fourth Year student pursuing communication and journalism at Moi University, has since won the hearts of many through her conservation work.
The United Nations Convention recognised her among the ‘top land heroes’ in May, because of her effort in changing public attitude towards land use and ensuring land is used sustainably.
"I was recognised during the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2020; they also showcased my work at the event," she says.
She had trained students from seven schools and donated tree seedlings to them.
She posts most of her work on social media, where she has attracted the attention of other environmentalists.
The UN Convention aims to have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050.
Ms Kombo has also been planting trees and educating farmers on climate smart agriculture techniques.
“My initiative stood out since it worked on attitude change, reforestation and mitigation of climate change. It was also in line with this year's theme Food. Feed. Fibre and sustainable production and consumption," she adds.
Ms Kombo's passion is on green spaces, trees and agriculture. She notes that having grown up in Mbooni, Makueni County, agriculture then was fine and weather patterns were on her fingertips because they were consistent.
"As I grew up, logging became rampant leading to changes in weather patterns. My parents sold maize to raise our schools fees, but we started experiencing droughts, streams were drying up and I wanted to do something about it," she notes.
She says this led to food shortages and prolonged dry seasons, threatening the existence of trees and animals.
"When I visited Lodwar and watched the children suffer from climate crisis and unpredictable weather patterns, I was motivated to give them a voice by training them on the importance of environmental conservation and living in a sustainable environment," she adds.
Through Patree, Ms Kombo has helped rehabilitate bare land and received invites to facilitate environmental education in schools and helped them set up tree nurseries.
Through community involvement, she participated in an essay competition by the World Bank where she was among the top five in Kenya. Her essay was about the relationship between early marriage and climate crisis.
“I looked at the regions with high numbers of early marriages and noted that poverty levels, which are a result of climate crisis, are major causes of early marriages. When crisis like drought occur, it affects the economy leaving young girls vulnerable because they need food; thus opt for marriage," she adds.
Ms Kombo has also participated in international campaigns such as Africa is not a dumpster, among other campaigns to combat desertification.
Her future plan is to ensure environmental education is taken seriously in schools, and help Kenya achieve the 10 per cent forest cover.
She has, so far, planted more than 5,000 trees in schools and around the community.